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The battle for Fallujah

May 28,2016 - Last updated at May 28,2016

The battle for Fallujah was due to be a pan-Iraqi victory against Daesh, waged by all components of the Iraqi society.

But the sudden appearance of Iranian military leader General Qassem Suleimani on the battleground changed the equation, making the Fallujah battle more of a vendetta against Sunnis, a sectarian warfare.

Suleimani’s presence serves Daesh domestically, projecting it as the only group fighting the Iranian hegemony, as represented by the head of Al Quds Brigades and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Currently a Daesh stronghold, Fallujah witnessed severe bombings in 2004 when American Marines stormed it to expel Al Qaeda fighters, entrenched there since Abu Musab Al Zarqawi used it as the capital of his Islamic emirate.

Houses have not been rebuilt after 2004, since the people there have become accustomed to successive waves of occupation and destruction by Iraqis, Americans or coalition forces.

Some of the 70,000 civilians remaining in Fallujah talked, on being evacuated, of different weapons that hit their city, including US-supplied F-16 and AC-208 precision-strike aircraft, Chinese-armed CH-4 drones, Russian-supplied attack helicopters and new Czech-supplied L-159 jets.

The Iraqi prime minister, Haider Al Abadi, announced this March the start day for the battle to liberate Mosul, with troops advancing from the south and from the Kurdish north, but nothing materialised so far, since he abided by Suleimani’s strategic advice to keep Daesh as a unifying force for all Shiite militias and political parties.

The grand ayatollah Ali Sistani from Najaf issued his orders to the Iraqi Hizbollah battalions, Asayeb Ahl Al Haq Shiite militias, to refrain from anti-Islamic practices when entering Fallujah.

In response to that call, Hadi Al Ameri, head of Badr militias, said on May 24 that Shiite Popular Mobilisation Forces will not enter the city of Fullujah, but will confine their movements to the rural areas and villages surrounding the city.

That was a preemptive move to dispel accusations against PMF’s notoriety for pillaging and murder.

The siege of Fallujah is one of the political cards that the current prime minister wants to play against his arch rival, Hojjatul Islam Sheikh Muqtada Al Sadr who proved, during the last three weeks, that he is the real maestro in playing the game of Shiite politics in Baghdad.

 

The question is, would the fall of Fallujah lead to the recapture of Mosul? Or will post-Fallujah operations be diverted to other smaller towns and villages, to dupe the Iraqi public opinion?

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